Bucs' Gerald McCoy opens up on national conversation dominating America

Eric Adelson
Columnist

The collision of sports, and social and political issues hasn’t escaped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team came together recently in a private meeting to share feelings on real world issues. And this week, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy offered a glimpse. McCoy, one of the top-paid defensive tackles in the NFL, was candid about his view of these topics, offering a glimpse of hope, fear and conflict in a candid one-on-one interview with Yahoo Sports.

There has been a lot of discussion about social issues lately. Is that something you’ve been talking about?

Absolutely. Talked about it in team meeting, locker room, practice, everywhere. It’s real life. Football is a game. We choose to play this as our career choice; it’s not real life. It’s real life in a sense of this is how we make our money, but life is bigger than this game we play. We got families, I got four kids and a wife. I gotta raise my kids to understand how the world works. It’s a scary world, man. We gotta prepare our families. And one thing we’ve discussed and decided on this team is whatever is going on in the world is not going to separate or break us. We are a family here.

That’s the problem. Everybody wants to fight and be divided. There isn’t any love in the world anymore. There needs to be more discussion. What happened to having debates and having discussion? You hate a person and you don’t even know why they feel the way they feel. Why don’t you talk to them first? Find out. It’s not how it should be. There shouldn’t be so much hate. Everybody is equal to me. We are all equal. Is that how the world works? No, it’s not. You don’t want to have to prepare for the world to be that way, but it is. It’s a fact. Everybody is not treated equal, and it shouldn’t be that way. It causes a rift. It causes a lot of fighting. It’s tough to deal with.

The inequality – how do you talk to your family about that?

Faith runs our family. God runs my house. If you ain’t read this in the Bible that you should hate this person, that person, you shouldn’t be out there doing it. You don’t be afraid to stand apart and be that person, where if everybody’s giving someone a hard time, you go and you stop it. And not only do you stop it, you go over and tell that person, “Hey, there is someone who loves you. You are enough.” That’s how I raise my family. Be that light, be that difference, instead of joining in. You see people bullying and people treating a person a certain way because of some reason you don’t understand? Don’t join in. Just stay away. If you can stop it, go stop it.

Important message.

It’s learned. Nobody’s born to hate other people. It’s a learned behavior. And it’s taught. It’s taught. Whomever is teaching this, it has to stop. There’s no one answer to how we fix it. It’s scary, you don’t know where this world is going. We don’t want to see another civil war. It’s too much, the world is too great, life is too short for everyone to be fighting all the time.

Are you worried that’s where we’re going?

Yeah, I am. There’s just a rift, it’s a break, it’s a split in society. It doesn’t have to be that way, but it is. That is a fact. Society is starting to split. Until we figure out how to come together and stop this hate and fighting, it’s going to be tough.

Do you wrestle with speaking up more as a league leader? As a community leader?

I used to. I don’t now. I’m eight years in now. I feel I’ve done enough in this league where if I speak, my voice will be heard. I’ve done enough where if I do say something, people will listen. I used to, I don’t anymore, and that’s why I said what I said in this interview.

Gerald McCoy (Getty Images)

Do you think it’s easier or harder to talk about these things than it was a year ago?

I think it’s getting easier because guys are starting to open up more about their feelings, but it’s harder because of the backlash. Easier to say something, but the backlash becomes heavier. You can’t do anything now without it being, “OH HE’S … !” Why can’t I just believe in something? This is what I believe in. Why don’t you ask me why I believe in this first, instead of giving me so much backlash?

I think there’s different ways to go about it. Guys are choosing to take knees or whatever they’re doing during the anthem. You can’t tell a person about their opinion or how they want to go about it. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion and that’s why we live in this country. Let people be. I just let people be. I believe what I believe. My wife believes what she believes. We come together as a unit and teach our kids a certain way. We teach them to respect everybody’s opinion, how they are. We teach love. Love everybody. Just because this person hates you doesn’t mean you have to hate them back. That’s not who God calls us to be. You hate me? I don’t hate you. I have no reason to hate you.

How do you fix racial inequality?

I don’t know. I don’t know. There’s no right or wrong answer. We just have to work towards change. No one has the answer. You can have all of these rallies, and this person say this, that person say that, sometimes it falls on deaf ears, people just don’t want to hear you. But we just gotta start working towards it. I don’t have the answer. I’m just one person.

Do you think the anthem protests have been helpful overall?

I don’t know. There’s a lot of backlash from it. That’s what people choose to show what they believe in. That’s what people choose to do. You won’t hear Gerald say yay or nay. That’s not me. I let everybody be themselves. Grown men doing this. Let them be grown.

Anything else you want to add?

Stop hating. Stop hating. Get back to discussing and having conversation. There is no talking to some of these people. We have to get to a point where just because you hate me doesn’t mean I have to hate you back.

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